An Editor Reveals Why Writers Need To Learn How to Self-Edit

By Tara Khandelwal

When you write the first draft of anything, it is a good idea to just let the ideas flow, let whatever is inside you out onto paper. That unfiltered burst of creativity is the meat, the juice. Within it are the seeds of your book.

However, the process of converting stories and innovative thoughts into books means stepping into the role of a reader. At the end of the day, you want your reader to not only pick up the book, but also keep going right till the very end. And that’s why crafting and honing your content and the presentation of it is so important.

Here are some reasons why every writer should learn the art of editing.

“With simplicity comes power.”

You want to make the reader’s journey friction-free, enjoyable and thought-provoking. Remember, if you can convey the most complex of ideas in a simple way – you have done your job. There is a misconception that the more obtuse your writing, the more it signals your intellectual prowess. That’s not the case. With simplicity comes power. More accessible writing means more readers and more application of all of your unique stories and ideas.

Looking at your work from a reader’s point of view helps you become a better writer. It enables you to cut extraneous parts of your story, focus on the interesting bits and highlight those. It helps you structure your arguments in a more coherent and logical way and perfect the art of showing vs telling. Indeed, they say that writing is rewriting.

“Editing suggests that you are willing to go deep and put in the work required to bring your readers joy out of every sentence that you write.”

Good editing signals that you are professional. Neatly written sentences, paragraphs that flow, grammatically correct language all signal to your reader that you take what you do seriously, and that you are capable of providing serious thought and attention to detail to your work. I work with a literary agency and help the company look at author proposals. Let me tell you that most proposals are rejected within minutes just because the author has not bothered to format the work properly or has typos in their work. 

Editing suggests that you are willing to go deep and put in the work required to bring your readers joy out of every sentence that you write. That every word has a place and purpose. 

I have been a professional ‘reader’ for over ten years now and have understood how to pick out elements that will bore an audience, how to focus in on elements that will surprise and delight, and techniques that a writer can use to keep a reader going. One of the most important and underrated tips out there is to step away from your work. Put it away, take a break and look at it with fresh eyes. With that, will come a new perspective.

Join me in our special editing and publishing course, where we will speak about the tools you can use to make your work shine! 

Find out more details about Bound’s ‘Editing and Publishing: A 2 Week Experiential Course’ here.

About the author

Tara Khandelwal is an editor and writer. She is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University and the Columbia Publishing Course. She currently works with Asia’s largest literary agency, Writers’ Side. She has worked with Penguin, BloombergQuint, SheThePeople.TV and more. She is the founder of Bound which provides skill building for creatives through writers’ retreats, workshops, writing coaching and editorial services